Posted tagged ‘planning’

If Removing On-Street Parking Spaces Also Removed an Open-Air Drug Market, Would That Be a Fair Trade?

April 25, 2019

The 600 block of Newton Place, NW, has been a difficult street for many years. It is narrow. It does not have street trees. And, it has had an on-again, off-again history of open-air drug dealing. We all know that crime is a complicated thing to solve. Clearly, the police play a role, and continue to do so on Newton Place. Social Services also play a key role and we are increasingly identifying public safety issues that are better suited for agencies geared toward addressing addiction and homelessness, as examples.

But what about planning and design? The short answer is yes. Poorly planned roads, streets, and infrastructure can similarly invite criminal activity or at least provide a desirable environment for it.

The 600 block of Newton Place is one area that I believe rises to this threshold.

One recent Saturday as I was walking down the block, I noticed that a brand new Audi A6 was parked on the block, about mid block, with out to District tags. As I was walking, another vehicle with out of District tags parked on the block. The new driver got out of their car and walked up to the Audi where the two then proceeded to conduct a drug transaction. This was shortly before noon.

It got me thinking — if the on-street parking on the block is being used as part of an active drug market, is it serving the community? Moreover, would there be a significant hardship to the neighbors if much of the on-street parking was removed? Even more, if the parking could be removed, could a portion of it be repurposed for street trees on a block where no street trees currently exist.

The overview below shows the area in question. Today, Newton Place is one-way eastbound. There is no parking on the north side of the street and 22 parking spaces on the south side of the street.

(Overview of the 600 block of Newton Place, NW. The red arrow indicates off-street parking currently unused.)

Of the 22 parking spaces currently on Newton Place, I would recommend keeping the five between Georgia Avenue and the entrance to the alley. These support the Ward 1 Senior Wellness Center and the businesses on Georgia Avenue. Also, any resident can park in them afterhours for free. Lastly, as trash and recycling is collected in alleys in Ward 1, keeping the street in its current configuration up to the alley entrance would not create a new hardship for these core city services.

This would leave 17 parking spaces that could potentially be removed. In walking the alleys both north and south of Newton Place, with few exceptions each property has access to off-street parking. Much of it is used, though some of it isn’t. In one case, the apartment building at 636 Newton Place appears to have room for 4 or 5 parking spaces, but the area is fenced off and currently unavailable. This wouldn’t have to stay this way.

(Parking area at the rear of 646 Newton Place, NW, that is currently fenced off.)

In reviewing the current inventory of current and potential alley parking for the properties along Newton Place, about 10 new spaces could be accommodated without significant hardship — this means that the net loss of parking would be 7 spaces.

The question becomes, would losing 7 spaces overall on Newton Place be an agreeable trade off if it also removed the opportunity for out of District vehicles to park there and conduct their drug business on a daily basis?

As a potential bonus, presuming there were wide support for decreasing on-street parking on Newton Place, a portion of the former parking area could be repurposed for about 8 new street trees (see image below).

(Could a portion of the parking on Newton Place be repurposed for new trees?)

As stated at the beginning of this post, Newton is a narrow street currently consisting of one travel lane and one lane of parking. The average width of an American car is 6 feet, meaning that if just 3 feet of the street formerly dedicated to parking were repurposed for a line of street trees, the travel lane would increase in width by 3 feet. The overall result could be a street with less crime, a safer street for travelers, and a more beautiful street with the addition of a tree canopy.

What Kind of Washington Do You Want? March 29th Ward 1 Candidate Forum Focuses on the Comprehensive Plan

March 28, 2018

The DC Grassroots Planning Coalition has partnered with other local organizations to organize a Ward 1 Candidate Forum for this Thursday, March 29th, beginning at 7 pm. The Forum will be at Busboys and Poets on 14th Street. It should be a good opportunity to learn more more about what the Comprehensive Plan is, how it impacts every neighborhood and resident, and why this election matters. More details about the forum can be found here.

Currently, the Office of Planning and the DC Council is in the process of updating the Comprehensive Plan. I’ve been deeply engaged in these efforts beginning in 2017 when I submitted 64 amendments to the plan in the areas of:

  • Land Use
  • Transportation
  • Parks and Open Space
  • Arts & Culture
  • Historic Preservation
  • and many more.

Following the DC Council’s March 20th marathon 13+ hour hearing I also submitted written testimony, which all can read my testimony here.

 

I think this is an important time when we as a city need to figure out what kind of city we want to be. While the stakes are high and the challenges are great, I have confidence that we can get to where our city needs to be by working together.

District’s Comprehensive Plan Amendment Period Extended through June 23rd

May 22, 2017

Map showing the area elements of the Comprehensive Plan.

Last week, it was announced on several listservs that the District had extended the Comprehensive Plan Amendment Period from May 26th to June 23rd. This provides more time to anyone reviewing the Comprehensive Plan to read it and suggest where it can be improved to meet the needs and goals of our growing city.

I’ve been able to read several chapters and submit amendments already, and while I find the online process a tad clunky, it isn’t difficult to register and submit a proposed amendment.

My suggestion to anyone who may fine the Comprehensive Plan daunting is to focus on the things that matter to you and prioritize those parts of the document first. For example, my initial focus was on the Mid-City Element and the chapters focusing on Land Use, Parks Recreation and Open Space, Historic Preservation, and Arts and Culture. Now with more time, I can on to Infrastructure, Transportation, Housing, and Urban Design.

The full text of the extension announcement is below:

District Extends Comprehensive Plan Amendment Period

Office of Planning will accept public amendment proposals through June 23

(WASHINGTON, DC) – During the “Open Call” period of the past two months, the DC Office of Planning has received hundreds of Comprehensive Plan amendment proposals from stakeholders across the city.  Based on conversations with a variety of stakeholders, we expect hundreds more amendments will be submitted before the original deadline of May 26.  In response to requests from Advisory Neighborhood Commissions and other community groups, the District will extend the Open Call for almost a full month, through June 23.

For more than a year, Mayor Muriel Bowser, the DC Office of Planning (OP), and the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development have engaged the public in a conversation about how Washington is growing and the role of the Comprehensive Plan in shaping future development.

“Community members have not only been attending our events and office hours for technical assistance, but have recently sponsored their own activities and done their own organizing,” said OP Director Eric Shaw.  “We wish to support this community-led planning and give a little more time to ensure this energy and thought can be captured during the formal amendment period.”

The Comprehensive Plan is the 20-year plan the District government uses to guide future development within Washington, D.C.  It contains the maps and policies that influence the neighborhoods in which residents live, work, shop, and play, as well as the investments the city makes in its services and infrastructure.  Most importantly, it is the primary tool that helps the District to manage change in a way that embraces progress while protecting the qualities that make DC a special place.

Stakeholders interested in making an amendment to the Comprehensive Plan can find useful materials under the “Propose an Amendment” tab on the [PLAN]DC website, including:

  • an Amendment Submission Form;
  • a How-to Guide for submitting an amendment;
  • a “Roadmap” of planning references;
  • a set of Frequently Asked Questions;
  • an Engagement Calendar; and
  • an Evaluation Framework, which OP will use to screen amendment proposals

During the extended period, the [PLAN]DC project team will be available to provide assistance in drafting and submitting amendments.  OP has also created the “meeting in a box,” a kit containing all the materials a community representative would need to lead a conversation with constituents about the Comp Plan amendment process.

Interested parties may contact the [PLAN]DC project team at plandc(at)dc(dot)gov to ask questions or request resources.  Those who do not wish to propose a specific amendment, but instead would like to share a general idea for consideration may also write the project team at plandc(at)dc(dot)gov.

D.C.’s Comprehensive Plan Begins Accepting Formal Amendment Proposals

March 27, 2017

Over the past year, the DC Office of Planning has led an array of activities to engage residents in a citywide initiative to amend the District’s Comprehensive Plan. On March 24, Mayor Muriel Bowser, the DC Office of Planning (OP), and the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) launched an “Open Call” period, through May 26, 2017, to give all stakeholders an opportunity to formally propose Comprehensive Plan amendments.

The Comprehensive Plan is the 20-year plan the District government uses to guide future development within Washington, D.C. It contains the maps and policies that influence the neighborhoods where people live, work, shop, and play, as well as the investments the city makes in its services and infrastructure. Most importantly it is the primary tool that helps the District to manage change in a way that embraces progress while protecting the qualities that make DC a special place.

The Comprehensive Plan was initially adopted in 2006 and was last amended in 2011. Much has changed since that time, including a population increase of over 75,000. Having an up-to-date Comprehensive Plan is critical to achieving the long-term success of the District and realizing our collective vision for an inclusive city.

Those interested in making an amendment proposal can find a host of useful materials on the [PLAN]DC website, including:

  • an Amendment Submission Form;
  • a “Roadmap” of planning references;
  • a set of Frequently Asked Questions;
  • an Engagement Calendar; and
  • an Evaluation Framework, which OP will use to screen amendment proposals

During the Open Call period, OP will hold a series of 15 technical assistance workshops (called Office Hours) in locations across the city, where participants will be able to ask questions and receive support in preparing proposed amendments. As spring unfolds, OP will also post additional support materials on the website and host additional events continuing and deepening the dialogue around the District’s development.

Below is the calendar listing dates, times, and locations for the Comprehensive Plan Engagement Forums.

Three Maps That Provide Insight Into How Park View Developed

May 12, 2016

I was recently alerted to the following three maps of Park View that were created for the Historic Preservation Office/Office of Planning in 2015. I think they are interesting and help provide some context for how the neighborhood was built out. I hope you find them interesting too.

Map 1: This map shows the age of the neighborhood, with eras represented by different colors (darkest color represents the oldest buildings).ParkView_Years

Map 2: This map shows the top five architects represented in the building permit database.ParkView_Architects

Map 3: This map shows the top five builders represented in the building permit database.ParkView_Developers

How Would You Redesign Park Morton?

December 9, 2015

The redevelopment of Park Morton is both necessary and something that will have a positive impact on everyone who lives in the Park View community. Yet, at the first Park Morton Planning and Design Workshop held on December 1st only about 50 residents participated. The next Planning and Design Workshop is scheduled for Saturday, December 12th, from 10:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m. at the Bruce-Monroe @ Park View School.

At the first workshop, the unsettled questions surrounding the former Bruce Monroe School site related to scale, density, and park programming also proved to be more of a distraction for some groups than others, preventing them from focusing on areas of agreement which would help answer the build-first site questions.

So, in the interest of coming up with some concrete ideas to ensure that the new Park Morton is a success and inclusive of community participation, I’m encouraging people to think about how the current Park Morton site could be developed in a way that knits back into the surrounding community. These ideas can then be shared at the November 12th workshop.

Park Morton Existing(Park Morton as it exists today.)

Above is a plan of the current Park Morton site, and you can see how the streets and houses were arranged just prior to the creation of Park Morton here. The general plan from 2008 is below. As you can see, many of the buildings are far more dense than is allowed by the R-4 zoning. In short, massive buildings were considered in 2008 as there wasn’t enough land to accommodate the mixed income community that is planned.

Park Morton Plan 2008(Park Morton Plan from 2008.)

Below is an idea I came up with which, I believe, addresses many of the challenges to redesigning the site while complying with the sites current zoning much more than the 2008 plan did. It retains apartment buildings along Park Road, the west end of Morton Street, and the southeastern corner of Morton Street. The large central building on Park Road is sited away from the street to help provide some green space and convey an entrance to the community.

Morton Street is opened up to Warder Street, and alleys are extend through blocks eliminating dead ends and cul-de-sacs.

Rowhouses line the north side of Morton Street, and face a park on the south side of Morton Street.

Lastly, there is some open land behind the apartment building at the southeast end of the property which could also be programmed as either a playground or a community garden.

Park Morton Redesign 3(One possible layout for the Park Morton area.)

Solving the planning puzzle for the current Park Morton site will help answer the question of how many units will need to be in the build-first phase of the development, which also helps answer the question of density.

So given the size, shape, and zoning (which is R-4) of the current Park Morton site, how would you design it?

In Brief: Why D.C. Needs Comprehensive Civic Planning

July 15, 2011

I think the image below shows what happens when there is not broad, comprehensive civic planning that is inclusive of the community. It shows the Georgia Avenue facade of the Fisherman of Men Church (former York Theater), which is currently being modernized.

The church came to the conclusion that their building was void of historic character and that its outdated facade did not “fit in” with the surrounding neighborhood. So, they decided to modernize the structure so that it is closer in appearance to the newer development on the Avenue. At the same time, the Middle Georgia Avenue Great Streets Project is installing new historically sensitive street lighting to be more compatible with the neighborhood.

I’ll be meeting with Director Majett of DCRA today to talk about this and related issues.

UPDATE: There will be a follow up meeting to include Office of Planning Director Tregoning.

Share

Reconsidering the Partial Closing of Otis Place

June 7, 2011

Last August I posed the question on whether or not closing a portion of Otis Place to connect the school and recreation center properties was a good idea or not. Since it was unclear at the time if the school was destined to be modernized or closed, I dreamed large and not only closed the entire block but cut in a new road at the rear of the recreation center’s property.

Now that things are more settled I think its time to think about this again. During the last year a decision has been made to keep the school open and renovate the building. We are also poised to begin renovations of the rec center’s athletic field. Because space at the rec center is at a premium and residents have expressed the desire to support tennis, basketball, soccer, and football, we either need to find additional space or decide what we are willing to live without. One possible way to enhance the neighborhood’s need to balance recreation, green space, and general quality of life would be to close the portion of Otis Place between both campuses.

Realistically, what would a partial street closure look like and how would it impact traffic? Below is a map that makes sense to me along with notes on what would need to change.

Map indicating how closing the section of Otis Place between the school and rec center could impact traffic

The only part of Otis that truly lends itself to closing easily is the section between Warder Street and the alley behind 6th Street, NW. Yet, to close this section the following changes would need to be made.

  1. Newton Place between Warder Street and 6th Street would need to change from a one-way eastbound street to a one-way westbound street.
  2. It would make sense if 6th Street, NW, were changed to a one-way northbound street.
  3. The stoplight at Otis and Warder would no longer make sense and should be relocated to the intersection of Princeton Place and Warder (or perhaps just a stop sign could be placed at this intersection and the traffic signal eliminated entirely).

This wouldn’t impact drivers too much since both Princeton Place and Park Road (the streets directly north and south of the affected area) support two-way traffic and have traffic signals at their intersections with Georgia Avenue.

Closing this section of Otis Place is not a new idea. Records at the DCPS school archives indicate that it has been raise at least two prior times. The first attempt to close Otis and unite the adjacent playground with the school property was proposed in 1928, but was opposed by the Georgia Avenue Business men.  It was raised again in 1962 when the Board of Education requested the closure to make the school and recreation lands available for joint use. This met with opposition from the Pleasant Plains Civic Association ultimately causing the request to be withdrawn from consideration.

Share

Could the School and Rec Center Properties be United to Enhance the Conditions at Both?

August 10, 2010

The section of Otis Place between the school and recreation center

The Park View Recreation Center is a facility that tends to fall short of community expectations across the board. This is not to say that there haven’t been improvements over the last few years.

This past season, the Rec Center has received a pool table, ping pong table, art supplies, and new computers. This has been in response to community activism, including a very involved youth population in conjunction with the Youth Power Network that uses the facilities, working through DPR and Councilmember Graham.

Outside of the building, there is a new mural and the pool received an overhaul at the beginning of the season. There is also$1.2M dedicated to the site that was obtained for the purpose of a new playing field and resurfaced basketball court.

Yet, I can’t help but feel that these are all band aids. Rather that commit lesser amounts of money to address a basketball court or upgrade a swimming pool, DPR and the city need to look at this property with the goal of coming up with a master plan of what an ideal community center on this property should look like. From that point, working backward, dedicated funds could then be applied to implement that plan without spending good money after bad.

One idea that I’ve shared on occasion is the closing of Otis Place between the school and playground. Closing a street is not a simple thing and would not be without its critics. Being a one-way street, to assist with traffic flow it would also make sense to extend 6th Street behind the Rec Center and connect with Princeton Place. This would give residents the ability to still get to Otis Place without having to drive on Georgia Avenue. A general idea of what this would look like is in the image below.

Concept plan showing the extension of 6th and closing of Otis between the Rec Center and school

I found it interesting that this is not a new idea. The closing of Otis and uniting the property with the adjacent playground was first proposed in 1928, but was opposed by the Georgia Avenue Business men.  It was raised again in 1962.

In May of 1962 the Board of Education requested that the District Commissioners take action to close the portion of Otis Place adjacent to the recreation center making the land available for joint use. This proposal was met with disapproval from the Pleasant Plains Civic Association in September. This disapproval was followed on October 17, 1962, by Carl L. Shipley, Republican chairman for the District, suggesting that serious consideration be given to acquiring the homes behind the school along 6th Street and adding that property to the school for playground use to prevent the closing of Otis. This resulted in the Board of Education withdrawing its request entirely.

Beyond people’s natural resistance to change, is there a practical reason not to extend 6th and close one block of Otis? The extended street would take very little property away from the playground, whereas uniting the property with the school would greatly enhance the usable greenspace for the community.

Share


<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: